The Charlotte News

Monday, January 17, 1938


Site Ed. Note: "Unhand Us, Mr.Skinner!" appears to be incongruous with Cash's life-long condition of not driving--as he never owned an automobile. As the author appears to be speaking from the viewpoint of a driver, it is unlikely the work of Cash. Moreover, Cash's comments on traffic were always the reverse, from the perspective of the pedestrian, hopping out of harm's way with an instant's hair-shave escape to show for it--thus, a further incongruity.

So why was it, as indicated in "They'll Not Gibber", a piece about the gibbet which is probably from Cash's ribbon, that the Republicans, the "Party of Lincoln", found congruity between that concept embodied in Lincoln's tenure and that following under Reconstruction during Grant's, and that leading to the "election" of Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 over Samuel Tilden, that, when push came to shove, in order to maintain a lock on the White House, the political ground suddenly and expediently shifted to squirrel the needed difference in electoral votes from competing, disputed slates of electors in three Southern states, Louisiana, Florida, and South Carolina, plus those from Oregon, by promising to the South an end to Reconstruction? Why, nevertheless, did the Republicans continue presenting serial anti-lynching bills until this time in history when, again, they joined forces with Southern Democrats to maintain a filibuster against it during a popular Democratic Administration? Why did Southern Democrats of the same segregationist stripe, who were largely, though not solely, responsible for the filibuster, find a haven by the mid-sixties and afterward, the Thurmonds, the Helmses, not in their old Democratic Party, but rather in the new Republican Goldwater-Nixon brand of "Conservative"-"Silent Majority" populism, wading by the mid-seventies from segregationist-busing issues into Fundamentalist "Christian" soapboxes over "morality", shifting only shades of ground the while, appearing in fact at times, at least by subliminal message, to make segregation a moral issue, indeed taking from the civil rights movement the church-based constituency to combat it, and transposing that notion of "revolution", as counter in this case, to ring the choir's coarsest emotional chords in the process in white suburbia where white-flight was the predominant method of escape from urban blight (nigger-town)?

We would postulate that the explanation for that thicket through time lies in the post-Civil War, post-Lincoln constituency of the Republican Party, the one which has been its sustaining basso continuo through time, that of Big Business. If it suits Big Business to appeal to the "little man", the guy who works in the factories, who builds the factories, the steel worker, the auto worker, the millhand, etc., then he transmutes himself, the Republican candidate does, into that every-man, offering up programs which just make good "common sense", such as school vouchers, to meet the fears and prejudices of the "little man" in a palatable fashion, without a care in the world for the overall impact on society of these programs in the long-term, indeed, branding that sort of concern as "elitism", even immoral because it is against the "little man's" deeply held moral platform, ultimately, though no longer expressed so crassly, synonymous with the old saw about if God had meant everyone to be equal, he'd have made us all white.

These "little men" drive the train, but this new Republican draws his real strength from his fellows, not at the church, not in the moral caboose where all the common (white) folk sit in their Sunday best with the conductor, not in the coal car from which the fireman draws the fuel to stoke the boiler, but at the meeting of the heads of Big Business in the club car, with champagne and caviar and fine velvet chairs to accommodate his plumed wealth and taste, insuring the boys and girls that it would be the mission of his post in government to keep wages low, profits high, jobs overseas when necessary to insure the former, golden parachutes in full deployment, all the while from the other side of his cynical mouth insuring with a wink the "little man" a better moral (all-white suburban) environment in which to raise their kids, "family values", and an SUV in which to take them to private school.

Wholly congruous over time, you see.


Ward Threatt, the bear-hunting postman, was saying in his regular space in Sunday's News that--

"A word I have been trying to get into this column is 'incongruous.' I wish somebody would make a sentence with it in it. I believe it would add a little class to this column."

All right, Cap'n Threatt, it's easily done, though the column is classy enough as it stands. Let's see, now--incongruous. Well, we read elsewhere in Sunday's paper that Grady Goode would like to be incongruous. In the past, Ham Jones has given us several reasons to believe that he too would like to be incongruous, and as for Major Bulwinkle, he is incongruous and is going to do his durndest to stay there.

Shucks, Cap'n Threatt, incongruous is a word we don't see how you've got out of using.

Unhand Us, Mr. Skinner!*

What has happened to the traffic lights? Now, don't tell us that nothing has happened; something has. Before it happened, a none-too-hurrying motorist could sometimes, if he got the breaks, make two successive green signals without stopping. As they are timed now, he is lucky if he makes any green light on the first go-round. And if he does, he will surely have to cool his heels at the next corner.

What the City's traffic engineer--who, by the way, is a first-rate building inspector--has never seemed to comprehend is that the system of stop-and-go lights is meant to facilitate the flow of traffic, not to impede it. To have to come to a complete stop at every corner not only irks the motorist, of which this protest stands in proof, but actually gums the whole works. The best illustration of this is a freight train. As long as it continues in motion, its cars keep their distance from each other, and it proceeds without the engines jerking the tail of the caboose. But let it stop and start up again, and each boxcar in the train seems to be venting a grudge against its neighbors fore and aft. It's bump for bump.

What the city needs, and has never really had, is a traffic system based on the train-in-motion theory instead of the shifting-engine principle.

They'll Not Gibber

In Washington Senator McNary has announced that the Republican Senators mean to do their best to see that the Southern Democratic Senators who are trying to talk the anti-lynching bill to death in a filibuster talk as long as they danged well please.

Which, on the face of it, might seem calculated to get the manes of Tom Watson and Henry Cabot Lodge, grandpere, to writhing in their graves. For all the years since Old Whiskers Hayes withdrew the army in return for the South's acquiescence in the theft of the Presidency of the United States, there has been an anti-lynching bill before the Congress. And for all those years the chief force behind that bill has been the Republican Party and its will to stick darts into the hide of Dixie, just as the chief force which has kept it perpetually unpassed has been the aid of the Yankee Democrats. But now all that would seem to be most wonderfully changed, with the Yankee Democrats appearing in the role of chief champions of the bill and the Republicans galloping to the aid of the Stars and Bars.

Yet in the graves of Watson and Lodge, we guess that all is, in fact, stoical peace. For both were experienced politicians in the flesh. And so, no doubt, they understand that no leopard has really changed his spots--that it all means simply that the anti-lynching filibuster is marvelously certain to obstruct the plans of the Democratic gentleman in the White House, and that the Republicans, now as always, are more than willing to aid in that.

Hold on, Mr. Willkie!*

Mr. Wendell Willkie, president of Commonwealth & Southern, probably overspoke himself when he said that the only thing he sought to do was to sell out to the Government. It is easy to understand how upset he must have been by the President's suggestion at a press conference on Friday, that municipalities should buy the poles and the wires and the transformers of operating utilities but not the generating equipment or the power itself, which they would get at wholesale rates from TVA. Plainly, this would destroy not only holding companies but operating companies as well.

Mr. Willkie, in all probability, was more upset when he learned from the Associated Press that "a highly-placed Government power official"--our Frank McNinch, d'you suppose?--thought it might be a good idea for the utilities to sell out lock, stock and barrel to TVA. Declining to let his name be used, this official expressed the opinion that this might be a desirable way out of the conflict between private and public utilities.

It would be desirable, we can see, from the point of view of public-ownership advocates, but we refuse to believe that represents the preference of the country as a whole. In fact, we believe that we can state, succinctly, just what that preference is. It is for utility holding companies to be dissolved except where they are shown to be essential; for the water to be wrung out of the capitalization of operating utilities; for rates to be re-examined and fixed so as to assure the public of the benefits of cheap power, the companies of a fair return on their actual investments. But as for the Government's taking over the utilities, filling their executive positions with jobholders of the right partisan faith, making annual deficiency appropriations to cover losses, and depriving states and local governments of a principal source of tax revenue, there exists outside of Washington no detectable demand for such a sneaking into state socialism.

Mercury in France

Reading the dispatches, it would be easy to believe that democratic government in France is in an exceedingly bad way. What with half a dozen cabinet overturns in three years and the discovery of alleged Rightist plots on every hand, it might seem, indeed, that Red or White revolution is imminent and the Third Republic tottering toward its final end.

But, in all probability, none of that is true. The Third Republic has existed for more than 50 years now, and during that period there have been many times when exactly the same sort of thing has held the stage. In truth, the sort of thing which is transpiring now may almost be said to have been the normal throughout the life of the Third Republic.

What it all means is simply that the French parliamentary system is excessively sensitive--that a cabinet may be overthrown for the slightest disagreement among the many parties. All the overturns since the fall of Laval, for instance, have brought about only one real change--the introduction of M. Georges Bonnet as finance minister. For the rest, the same elements and the same men have made up all the cabinets. Merely, there are [indiscernible words] shifts back and forth.

And beneath all this kaleidoscopic play on the surface, the Third Republic has one strong anchor--an intense love of liberty on the part of the great body of French people, which dates back for 150 years.

Matter of Residence

It might seem a little difficult to understand that speech the Pope made at Rome the other day, wherein he waxed almost fulsome in praise of Mussolini awhile he denounced Adolf Hitler in no uncertain terms. For the two dictators and their regimes are manifestly tarred with the same brush. To be sure, Benito is not currently engaged in open persecution of the Church as Adolf is, but it was only the other year that he was, and the only reason he isn't today is that the Vatican finally decided to swallow such peace terms as he offered. Moreover, it is perfectly clear that the philosophy of Fascism--the philosophy whereunder the chief aim of man is worldly glory achieved by war and conquest, and whereunder murder is an openly avowed instrument of policy, is as completely anti-Christian as that of the Nazis.

But perhaps, even at that, it is not too difficult to understand the Pope's speech. The European correspondents have long been pointing out that, while Musso professes ardent love for Hitler, his interests in many respects really run exactly counter to Adolf's, and that he is exceedingly anxious that the latter should not grow too great. And--the Pope's domain lies in the heart of Mussolini's capital. North, south, east, and west, stretch many miles of Italian territory, and many hundreds of thousands of Italian troops ready to bring Vatican City to heel at the duce's word.

Site Ed. Note: The rest of the page is here.

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